Monday, October 23, 2023

QUICK SHOTS: The Executioner #276: Levithan by Don (Gerald Montgomery) Pendelton


It's hard to believe that this is the first adventure of Mack Bolan I've reviewed here on the blog. The true Men's Adventure paperback boom started with our man, Mack. Sure, there's Bond roots, there's Mike Hammer roots, Matt Helm roots. But the idea of the numbered book with the continuing bloody adventures of a singular man pretty much started with War Against the Mafia. Book #1 is a stone-cold classis a slim masterclass in action writing. Then obviously after 30-something books Don Pendleton was a little done with Bolan and Gold Eagle stepped in with a plethora of ghostwriters. Some fantastic, some not-so-much. Thinking about it, I rarely dig my toe into the Bolan universe, I guess I think of them a bit to "normal" in the action-adventure field and I usually crave the wilder/weirder tales. 

That's called a lead-in. 

Probably like any series that gets into the high 200's things are bound to get a little odd. That's exactly what began to happen with the Bolan books (might have to read more of this late-period ones) and Bolan found himself fighting more sci-fi-type villains and more outlandish plots. So, in Levithan Mack Bolan fights Cthulhu. Oh, and Hunter S. Thompson is there too. 

The plot is kinda out there, more akin to a Destroyer novel (Remo kicked Cthulhu in #139 Dream thing) but it's Bolan who gets roped into heading off to a converted oil platform to take care of this monster that keeps killing people. The people are bad dudes, the mafia has team-up with a drug kingpin plus the evil CIA to turn the platform into a sovereign nation to allow all the drugs/prostitution they can get. Only a nearby evil cult has taken offense, and their tentacle-packed ancient god is angry and killing everyone on the platform. A lot of the book reads like a B-Horror movie with a secluded cast and a rampaging monster. 

To stop it Bolan is sent in with Dr. West from Miskatonic University (watch Re-Animator if you don't get that reference) and FBI Mallory Harmon who is an X-Files-kind of FBI agent. Harmon is the real star of the book. It's like an episode of an old TV show where they are trying to do a spin-off and the main characters take a backseat. Between her, Dr. West, the Hunter S. Thompson stand-in and the villains, Bolan doesn't have a lot to do. Harmon has surer footing in the weird trappings of the story and Bolan is just sort of "there." Not saying that he doesn't blow plenty of bad guys away with his Desert Eagle, but it was clear that Montgomery was more interested in Harmon and her underwear. There's lots of talk and scenes/descriptions of her underwear. Including her introductory bit where she blows away a Hills Have Eyes-type clan in her bra and panties. Then stands around talking to her FBI colleagues without dressing.

The guys from Able Team show up to help, Bolan's brother has a small B-story and there's stuff with the evil cult too. There's a lot of stuff jammed into this 200-ish page books. Which is ultimately it's down fall. I've heard rumor that it was supposed to be a longer Super Bolan book then got cut down which would make sense. Montgomery can spin a yarn though; I can't say I was ever bored with it. The action is rolls along quickly and the pages flew by so whatever quibbles I had; they were easy to get over. 

I imagine this bend on the Executioner series was a weird one for diligent readers to take at the time and it doesn't really seem like they ever got this odd again. Let me know if they do though! I had a fun time with this one and its Halloween season so it's nice to read about monsters and people with machine guns fighting them. Spooky.

Friday, October 13, 2023

QUICK SHOTS: Friday the 13th Part 3: 3-D by Micheal Avallone

For those who are going to read this in the future just have it known that I timed something out right in life and got this review of a FRIDAY THE 13TH film done and out on...dun, Dun, DUN...Friday the 13th. Hold your applause. This is ground zero for Jason Vorhees in the written word, which is a little surprising to me since the novelized just about everything back in the day. I've covered a few of the YA novels here but this is the first grown-up Jason novel I've read.

This one's got a bit of bad reputation within the Friday fans, most of them don't seem to think my man Avallone got the tone right of a Friday film. And, yeah, they are probably right. This is exactly the reason why I LOVED this book. I'd imagine that most fans of the movies had never read one of Avallone's works before (they're missing out) and they don't quite understand what Avallone puts down when he writes a book. 

You have to look at this way, over coffee or a beer Michael Avallone tells you the story of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3 3-D and he tells it to you in HIS voice, with little asides, mind wanderings and also probably sticking his finger out almost directly in your eye during the 3-D parts. He doesn't resort to just a bland retelling of a screenplay in a different form, he spins a Michael Avallone yarn with the screenplay as a jumping off point. 

Case in point: the novel starts off with a quote from THE SATAN SLUETH! Avallone's sadly too short series about Phillip St. George III who battles the occult and other monstrosities, a little like SCOOBY-DOO for adults who like whiskey and cigarettes. So, The Satan Sleuth is cannon for Jason to fight now? Where's that book? This sort of thing is fairly common in Avallone's work, his best-known character that loveable private eye Ed Noon shows up in The Butcher when Avallone was writing them too. It's part of why I love his work, but I'd bet it flew over the heads of the kids and teenagers who only wanted to read about dismemberment then and now. 

Now, I also LOVE the FRIDAY THE 13TH movies. For my money they are the sturdiest, meat and potatoes slasher pictures of the 80s. They sort of blend together in my mind sometimes, but I don't think they ever sink to the lows of some of the entries in the other slasher franchises of the time. Having just participated in a podcast where we watched every HALLOWEEN movie from the original to the 2nd Rob Zombie film, I can tell you the highs might be higher with HALLOWEEN, but the lows are much, much lower.

The novelization follows the movie pretty closely, though there are difference since Avallone was working off of an earlier script. Some kids come to Crystal Lake to stay for the weekend, but uh-oh Jason is there. Part 3 is the one where Jason finally gets his hockey mask and were everything is right in the world. Buts it's a "faceless white mask" in the book, still better than a burlap sack. It's slice and dice, and crush and stab past that. Avallone breezes through the book and seemingly had a good time with it. Even though I doubt slashers where his thing. Having read some of his other works in the horror genre like THE COFFIN THINGS and his work in the gothics, he was more traditional in his horror taste I mean he did ghost write for Boris Karloff after all. 

Michael Avallone is one of my favorite writers, I can't seem to dislike a book of his so I'm biased but if you go in with the right mindset, I think it'll be a good time for the reader. Problem is this, like every 80's slasher franchise novel is ridiculously hard to come by and very expensive when you do. Being an Avallone fan this was a my "white whale" for quite a while before I bite the bullet and scooped it up for around $50 which wasn't the worst deal sadly. I'm glad I did though. Sometimes in collecting you have to open your wallet to make the itch go away.

Oh, and no, no parts of this book required 3-D glasses.